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Entertainment writer to stage his own performance

Shields Gazette reporter Chris Robinson is to make his theatre debut later this year after winning a plum part in a play.

After years of writing reviews, the reporter will be stepping on to the other side of the footlights in a modern day comedy hitting the South Tyneside stage.

Chris, (23), will star as Mr Dodds, in Donald Churchill and Peter Yeldham’s My Friend Miss Flint, as part of the Westovian Theatre Society’s autumn production.

The play, about a celebrity gardener’s tax dodge and his cunning plan to avoid being caught out by the Inland Revenue, will be performed from Monday, October 9 to Saturday, October 14.

As entertainment reporter with the Gazette, Chris (pictured) has also decided to show the paper’s readers what it’s really like behind the scenes by penning his own column about the preparations.

He said: “When I decided to approach my editor with the idea of Chris’s Curtain Call, I didn’t know what to expect.

“As entertainment reporter I’ve interviewed dozens of actors and directors from both the amateur and professional circuit about why they enjoy the role so much.

“I’m so impressed with the amateur shows I’ve reviewed with the Gazette and I know from my contacts just how hard it is to stage a show.

“Although you read plenty about the shows ahead of their opening night, no-one really fully understands how much (unpaid) work and effort goes on behind the scenes.

“Often there are cries of: ‘Oh I can do that, it seems easy’ – well, I’m here to prove it’s not.

“I used to tread the boards when I was a teenager – and went to the same drama group as a certain Ant and Dec – but to say I’m a little rusty is an understatement.

“The thing I’m fearing the most is freezing on stage with my family, friends, colleagues and, of course, Gazette readers watching on in horror.

“Each column will follow what goes on behind-the-scenes, from the audition process to the ups and downs during rehearsals right up until the opening night.”

The play will be performed at the Pier Pavilion Theatre, Pier Parade, South Shields, which has been home to the Westovian Theatre Society for more than 90 years.

Gazette editor John Szymanski said: “Chris has always been interested in the arts and we wish him well when he makes his stage debut.

“I am sure he will be well supported by his friends from the Gazette on opening night and, of course, he will now have to read a review of his very own performance in next day’s paper!”